Between February 2nd and June 16th this year (June 16th being Bloomsday, the day that the events of Ulysses unfold), the literary world both in Ireland and abroad is going all out for the centennial anniversary of Ulysses’ publication. James Joyce himself was also born on this day in 1882, 140 years ago. Here are some ways the world is remembering Ulysses today.
The Irish postal service, An Post, released two commemorative stamp designs to celebrate a century of the novel. The stamps feature photos of Dublin sliced into nine horizontal bars on each one to represent the eighteen total chapters of Ulysses.
The colors come from something called the “Gilbert schema,” a guide Joyce devised for understanding the structure of the novel that assigned certain colors to some of the chapters. The Gilbert schema is a chart that also clarifies the time of day each part takes place, the figures from The Odyssey depicted, the overall meaning, and the field of science or art it represents. It also makes for some visually striking collectible stamps!
Also in Ireland, the city of Dublin plans to revive its Bloomsday celebrations for 2022 that had been halted or moved online for the past two years due to the pandemic. The James Joyce Center will be organizing readings, walking tours, theater performances, and more around Dublin between today and June 16th, and will end the #Ulysses100 season with a weeklong Bloomsday festival.
As Ulysses was first published in Paris by Shakespeare and Company, this year the Irish Cultural Center in Paris has organized special celebratory events. One such event is a photo exhibit from Deirdre Brennan about socio-political issues faced by modern-day Dublin. The photo series is structured around the eighteen chapters of Ulysses and applies Joyce’s themes and ideas to the present day.
While the photo exhibit is an in-person event, the Centre Culturel Irlandais and the University of Notre Dame have also developed an audio walking tour of Joyce’s Paris. Over the course of its twenty-five minutes, the narration takes you through the streets he lived on to significant landmarks like his Parisian ophthalmologist’s office and favorite restaurants. The walking tour is available to listen in English on the Cultural Center’s Soundcloud page from today through the end of July.
In the United States
The Harry Ransom Center in Texas is hosting an online event on February 2nd titled “Women and the Making of Joyce’s Ulysses.” It’s free to register to attend here! Dr. Clare Hutton will explore the hidden roles of women in Joyce’s life who made Ulysses possible, like Sylvia Beach from Shakespeare and Company and the women who ran The Little Review, the American publication in which Ulysses first appeared as a serialized work.
Finally, the Penn State University Press is releasing a collection of ten essays from Joyce scholars in June. One Hundred Years of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses‘ is edited by Irish Fiction Laureate Colm Tóibín and provides new analyses on the piece and insight into Joyce’s writing process, his struggle to get it published, and its ensuing legacy.